A C-124 Globemaster, one of the Air Force’s largest heavy transport planes in 1952, hit a cliff on Alaska’s Mount Gannett, killing 41 passengers and 11 crewmen. Due to severe weather, the military gave up trying to reach the crash site. Snow and ice entombed the remains of the passengers and crew for well over half a century.
But in June of 2012, a National Guard helicopter crew found the wreckage on Colony Glacier, 40 miles east of Anchorage, about 12 miles from the original crash site. Experts believe that the plane debris and human bones have been churning through the glacier for almost 60 years as it creeps downhill. Joint Prisoners of War, Missing in Action Accounting Command (JPAC) arrived not long after the discovery, to extricate pieces of the craft and human remains from the ice.
The Air Force, Army, and National Guard deployed crash-recovery specialists, a Mortuary Affairs specialist, mountaineering specialists, chopper crews, and an explosive disposal team to the glacier in an attempt to bring closure to the victims’ families. DNA skeletal analysis, and dental records play a role in matching remains to the correct passengers, but these processes have taken years to resolve identities.
Every summer since 2012, Alaskan Command, Alaska National Guard, Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations, U.S. Army Alaska, 673rd Air Base Wing, and Detachment 166 Training squadron personnel assist in the efforts to recover human remains and remove debris in the ongoing mission of “Operation Colony Glacier.”
The dictionary defines “closure” as: ” the feeling that one’s prolonged state of emotional distress over some traumatic experience or situation has finally ended.”
For me, “closure” is impossible — as long as my brain functions.
Are demons responsible for reminding me of the pain? Has the trauma grooved so deeply in my psyche that I cannot help falling into the same ruts again and again?
I don’t know.
Sometimes a memory slithers up like a serpent. Other times it flashes like sheet lightning across my mind. Unequivocal closure does not exist in my reality. No matter how much I pray, tears still flow as I wear out threads in the fabric of time.
But God does not promise us a conclusive, terminating “closure” while we live on earth. What God does promise to give is PEACE. Scripture tells me to “seek peace and pursue it.” God’s peace is immediate, and the resurrection of his son, Jesus, is his pledge that true closure IS waiting for me — as it awaited him in heaven after his crucifixion.
God does not erase my memories, but answers my petition for justice or healing with his grace and sovereignty.
Heaven is the only place where unequivocal closure is possible. Until then, God has implanted peace in my psyche that keeps me from visiting the “crash site” and trying to pick up the pieces again and again.
- Jesus promises peace.
- Peace is the pavement upon which we travel to our destination: heaven.
- God transfigures “old bones” into peace.
Peace I [Jesus] leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:26–27 NLT).
Nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God . . .” (Romans 8:39 NLT).
“You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you” (Isaiah 26:3 NLT).